VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Tag archives for Octavio Aburto
The humble mangrove forest is one of the most biologically important ecosystems that border our oceans. They act as the skin of our coastlines, managing the energy exchange between land and sea; and provide vital ecosystem services such as waste treatment, habitat, food resource, and recreation.
I have been on many research expeditions throughout the Gulf of California, Mexico, where I study these ecosystems and photograph them in action: acting as a nursery for yellow snappers, hosting migratory birds after their long flight, and buffering coastlines against storms.
Oceans have always been a source of wealth. But our ability to extract resources and dump waste has surpassed the ocean’s capacity to adapt to these impacts. With nets growingly empty, some communities found an opportunity to use the ocean’s resources in a different way: marine ecotourism.
Spawning aggregations are massive gatherings of fish for breeding, a behavior shared by many species across the globe in many different habitats. They are predictable because they usually happen at the same place and at the same time each year, and humans have taken advantage of this to harvest large numbers of fish with minimal effort. But as harvesting keeps growing, fish populations keep diminishing.
Mangroves are trees that have evolved to survive in flooded coastal environments. A fragile web of life that generates valuable ecosystem services. Mexico is one of the countries with the most mangroves, but also occupies one of the first places in the rate of deforestation. Each year thousands of hectares are cleared and replaced by shrimp farms, agribusiness plantations, or mega tourism development. At current rates of deforestation, in 25 years about 50% of mangroves in Mexico will be lost. http://thenaturalnumbers.org/mangroves.html
Third day into the expedition, the team took their quadcopter for an unintentional bumpy ride-and caught it all on tap.